November, 2016 | The Economics Classroom

Negative Externalities of Production

In our last lesson we defined and introduced the different types of market failures we’ll study in future lessons. The first we examine is negative production externalities, which arise when the production of a good creates spillover costs on society as a whole.

This lesson looks at one market in which negative externalities result from production and carefully walks through how we can use marginal benefit and marginal cost analysis to illustrate and explain this market failure.

Introduction to Market Failures

Markets are thought to be the most efficient system for allocating society’s scarce resources. However, what if markets FAIL to achieve the efficiency we so desire as a society? Market failures arise when the free market quantity is either greater than or less than the “socially optimal” quantity of a good.

This lesson introduced different ways markets may fail to achieve a socially optimal level of output. In part 2 of this lesson we’ll explore in more detail one type of market failure: negative externalities of production.